**21 Of Wonder

 In ITC's Threat of the Week

We have (hopefully) all heard of scams involving calls and texts to your mobile phone being redirected by fraudsters, usually by convincing your telephone operator that they are you and requesting call-forwarding to be enabled at the network level. This is usually achieved by harvesting as much data on you as possible from public sources, or hacked details on the ‘Dark Web’ (mwahahaha).

Once your calls and texts are being forwarded, the scammers use ‘forgotten password’ features of websites to get access to more of your details, ultimately looking to siphon your bank account.

Way back in the day (for we are very old), gangsters would actually phone people up and convince them they were calling from the operator and ask them to type a ‘test string’ into their device which went something like this ‘**21*09001234567#’.  **21 is of course call-forwarding and 09 numbers are an example of premium rate services. The fraudsters set up a couple of lines and waited for the money to roll in.

It appears that matters have come full circle and the two scams above have been morphed into a single nasty, just in time to rob you before Christmas (you will note that we have not yet descended to the swamp that calls this period ‘The Holidays’, grrrrrrrrrr). How very rotten of them.

This week a friend of The Happy Parish that is ITC Towers phoned to say that somebody had phoned them pretending to be from their bank and asked them to ‘check something’ on their phone. You guessed it, it was call forwarding and the perpetrator immediately contacted the bank and made a £15,000 transfer.

Having initially been taken in by the scammer, our pal noticed the little ‘f’ that indicates call forwarding is active, disabled it using the iOS functionality, contacted the bank, put everything on hold and then visited the bank the very next day, arranged new cards, new security codes, got the 15 large back (unusually very promptly) and spent the rest of the day looking for further infiltration of all online resources and of course changing all of their direct debit subscription details.

A major ball-ache if ever there was one. “Could have been worse,” we said just before going into hiding.

This appears to be doing the rounds, so please be on your toes and give your relatives, especially the older ones, appropriate warnings or enter a world of pain helping them sort it out.

By a strange coincidence, this week also saw the jailing of one of the aforementioned scumbag fraudsters.

Hailing from the lovely, bohemian Brighton, this bloke, real names Mr Tony Muldowney-Colston (also known as Tony Colston-Hayter) was sentenced to 20 months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for defrauding about 500K from unsuspecting punters via telephone scams (http://news.met.police.uk/news/man-jailed-for-fraud-offences-340402) various.

The curious thing about this chap is that he used a home built machine, which Sherlock informs us was a real thing, to change his voice and other unknown shady purposes. It looked like this:

Wowser! SteamPunk meets fraudster. Perhaps he should consider the alias ‘Heath Robinson’ after his porridge has been probably less than half served. In just 10 months, this evil genius will be out and back on the tools.

We all know that Christmas, New Year and the distasteful sales stampedes both real and virtual provide a perfect environment for fraudsters to target the vulnerable, distracted or over-refreshed.  Let’s be careful out there.

If you would like to discuss online or telephone fraud or anything cyber related, Satan’s little helpers are ready for you. Contact us at: [email protected] or 020 7517 3900.

Author: Kevin Whelan

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